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December 23, 2009 > Alameda County Library News: Does Anyone Still Read The Newspaper?

Alameda County Library News: Does Anyone Still Read The Newspaper?

Submitted By Kathy Steel-Sabo

Are newspapers a thing of the past? Will anyone miss them when they are gone? Lately the news all seems to be about the impending demise of newspapers. Venerable newspapers in existence for 140 years or more have gone defunct. Advertising revenues have gone into a steep decline as advertisers are going elsewhere, consumers are doing their buying and selling over the internet and the job search process has moved to the online world as well. The broadband generation is accustomed to getting news for free and there is an incredible outpouring of content available via the Internet. Those of us who have been reading newspapers all our lives have been thinking about 'a post-newspaper era.' I decided to do a decided unofficial survey of Newark Library staff and patrons.

There are those of us who are dedicated newspaper readers. We read various newspapers, local and otherwise, everyday. For many of us it is a morning habit. We go out in the early hours to scoop the paper off of our driveway, sidewalk or front porch, pour that first cup of coffee, take the first spoonful of cereal or first bite of toast and begin to peruse our favorite section. For one person the morning just has to start with the newspaper, one piece of toast and a bowl of hot oatmeal. For some it is not that first cup of coffee but a cold Diet Pepsi. Some don't start the day with the paper but catch it later in the morning. Some read the paper in the evening, but before the day is over the paper will get read. Many of us really enjoy a Sunday newspaper. Several people said they subscribe to only the Sunday newspaper. They look forward to a relaxing day enjoying the paper at a leisurely pace. One of the youngest staff members, in his twenties, thinks the very act of reading is important and reading online is just not the same. He feels the writing in the newspaper has gone through the editing process and therefore the quality of the writing is superior. In contrast the online environment is more 'in the moment' and is put online with little or no editing.

Many of us are reading the newspaper primarily for the local news, but there are other pieces of the newspaper that are very important. Many feel the Internet is good for the late-breaking state, national and international news, but provides very little coverage of local news. This is especially important when it comes to local sports teams; the internet tends to be slanted toward the east coast. One person just gets a Sunday newspaper so she can read the comics, cut coupons and read the advertisements. More than one person mentioned the importance of seeing the local ads. One person said those ads can be viewed online, but it is much easier to peruse them in the newspaper. A couple of people mentioned the editorials; they like to see what local people think about current political issues. Some people like to follow a particular writer, such as sports, finance, business or a political commentator.

There are many of us who do not read the newspaper at all. Several mentioned the expense of subscribing to newspapers as a factor. Among those who do not read a newspaper, they get their news online, the radio or television. Some online sources mentioned were CNN, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, InsideBayArea and ESPN. Several people mentioned they get the headlines when checking their email. One staff person said he enjoys getting his news with an element of comedy, he regularly watches 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report.' Several staff mentioned following up on stories in various media. Perhaps they heard the story on the radio while driving to work. Once at work, they may check online sources for more information. Back home they might turn on the TV news for any updates. Some people really enjoy talk radio shows.

All the Alameda County Libraries subscribe to many newspapers and a huge variety of magazines. Or you can get your news by visiting our website www.aclibrary.org, clicking on 'research', then 'articles and databases', then 'magazines, journals and newspaper articles' and finally 'Infotrac Custom newspapers.' From this website, with your free Alameda County Library card, you can access full text of such newspapers as The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times.

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